Open, casual events tend to bring in a variety of students, and our hope is to provide an environment where students can connect and collaborate.  Toward that goal, the Innovation Center recently hosted the first of a monthly series of Super Smash Bros. Melee tournaments.

Super Smash Bros. Melee Tournament

The event was entirely planned and executed by some diehard gamers that hang around the IC, and they were able to scrape together a not insignificant number of GameCube systems (and a few Wiis) and CRTs to put on a pretty dynamic tournament.


One student brought this sweet self-contained briefcase setup:

Self-Contained Smash Case

During the tournament, some musicians wandered in and took a look at the in-progress Studio, one of the spaces within our center.  They met another student musician, and we all ended up having a great conversation about gear and future directions of the space and its recording capabilities.  They shared some beats with each other outside of my office, talked about collaborating on some music, and exchanged information.  I’m going to try and book them to perform live hip hop at the tournament next month!

Music Connection

Tom, who installed our sink and who is an accomplished wood turner, returned to the Innovation Center and brought us some gifts!

Turned Wood

After some fussing – for whatever reason the autofocus on the laser was being weird – we were able to apply Tom’s monogram to the bottom of the little maple vase, which is a gift to the Innovation Center. The “L” bowl is a gift for someone else, and we’ll help Tom monogram that as well. The bowl on the right is a really cool wood and epoxy combination, but some research indicates we shouldn’t etch the epoxy, so the maker’s mark might have to go in a different location on the particular bowl.



After a few rounds of design and tweaking, I finished a prototype of stencils that mark the rally points for in the event of a building or campus evacuation.  The principal design challenge for this project was the size – the sign needed to be larger than the bed of the laser – which necessitated designing in halves.  The bottom stencil mask contains a cut out into which the rally point designator (North/South/East/West 1-5) can be dropped in.  A fun collaboration with safety-minded staff.

Sign Progress

Professor Jennifer Kraemer (ECE), longtime faculty makerspace champion and creative maker, brought her ECE 342 – Constructive Math and Science in Early Childhood Education class to the Innovation Center this week to work through the design thinking process.  After a general makerspace tour, students enthusiastically worked through the design challenge…


…and produced some interesting prototypes…


…after which we had a really robust discussion about the ways in which they use (or might apply concepts of) human centered design in their own practice, developing activities and environments and lesson plans for children. We spent some time talking about the parallels between design thinking and the scientific method as problem-solving paradigms for children, using this video of Pre-K children creating solutions to prevent Humpty Dumpty from cracking as a leaping off point.

In addition to learning another methodology to use in designing lessons and activities, the class left with some ideas about how Innovation Center resources might help them in their work with children.  A great group of students!

Fired up by the sewing lab from a few weeks back, one of our Making Social Change groups ran with the quilt theme, creating an A-Z of Planned Parenthood quilt as their final group project. They used the laser cutter to cut various shapes and letters, and employed a variety of techniques, including embroidery and applique, to create their squares, and PVC pipe to assemble the frame.  Here they are putting the finishing touches on their project.

Preparing for Visit from Planned Parenthood

On Thursday, December 7, representatives from Planned Parenthood tabled outside the Falcon’s Roost, and our students staffed the booth and displayed their quilt. They got a lot of foot traffic, answered a lot of questions, and distributed lots of literature, including some from built-in pockets on the quilt.

Planned Parenthood!

It’s great to see our students using their skills and passion to take a project from idea to application, and this project is a perfect example of exactly what we hoped would be the outcomes of this course when it was just some ideas on a whiteboard back in 2015.

The theme for week eight of Sociology 379: Making Social Change was “memory” and its role in social movements.  We used timely news coverage of the controversy surrounding Confederate statues as a leaping off point for a discussion about monuments, using James W. Loewen’s “Ten Questions To Ask At A Historic Site” to frame the conversation.

We talked about a variety of examples, including EJI’s Community Remembrance Project, the Bussa Emancipation Statue, many from the San Antonio peaceCENTER’s gallery of Peace & Justice Monuments, and the relocation of Negro Hill Cemetery, an example from our very own backyard.  We also spent some time on the aesthetics and the design of monuments, including the role of light and shadow, scale, and subject matter.

Students were then presented with a mock RFP:

The Carlson Dowell Social Justice Foundation is seeking proposals for a monument – a permanent public art piece – to be installed at Folsom Lake College in spring 2018.  The monument will occupy a 50’x 85’ footprint adjacent to the Falcon’s Roost.  Whether your goal is to memorialize or celebrate an important social justice issue, your proposed monument must also educate, in keeping with the college’s mission.  The installation must also be interactive, encouraging students and the public to actively participate and interact with the work.

Specifications for the prototype included that it be free-standing, crafted at 1:24 scale, include at least one digital fabrication element – an object created/modified using the laser cutter, CNC, vinyl cutter, or 3D printer – and that it incorporate LED lighting.

Making Monuments Challenge

We took a walk out to the proposed monument site so that students would have a sense of the scale and surroundings.  Back in the lab, students set to work on their proposals.  In a very short time – about 2 hours, really – groups were able to craft some really thoughtful proposals and interesting prototypes.

David, Clarity, and Luna developed their proposal around the idea of differences and commonalities among Folsom Lake College students.  Their prototype was based on a maze concept, with many paths leading to a central common ground.

Making Monuments

Another group developed their proposal around issues of food distribution and food insecurity.  They incorporated a greenhouse into their prototype, using to generate the cut file, and the laser to cut the parts from clear acrylic.  Here Nusaybah and Micaela are preparing to solvent weld the pieces together.

Putting the Greenhouse Together

Zainub, Heather, Jeremy, and Kila based their design on a View-Master Viewer, and were able to modify a Custom View-Master Disc they found on Thingiverse (CC BY TheHeadlessSourceMan), which they cut from wood using the laser.

Prototype of Interactive Monument (Based on a Viewmaster Viewer)

As the final step in the process, groups shared their proposals and prototypes and took questions from their peers.


We’ve got a great group of students, and I’m continually impressed by their open, collaborative, and creative approach to the course.

Way back in 2008, the Innovation Center got its first 3D printer, a Z Corporation Z450.  At the time, it was very difficult to explain to most people what “3D printing” even meant, as it hadn’t yet entirely entered the public consciousness.  Professor Dan Ross (Engineering and Computer Information Science) was an early adopter, and was in fact the first FLC faculty member to incorporate 3D printing into his courses.

Fast forward to 2017.  The Z450 has long since given up the ghost, and we’ve got a few 3D printers sprinkled around the college, including a LulzBot Taz down in the Theater Arts shop, a few Makerbot Replicators in the Engineering classroom, and the U2E+s, U3s, Rostock Max, and Form 2 in the Innovation Center.

This semester, students in Dan’s Engineering 312 : Engineering Graphics course worked on designing and printing gear boxes.


I had the chance to talk to some of the students in the lab toward the end of the semester (which is winding down), and saw some of the parts-in-progress on the printers, but until Dan sent these photos, I hadn’t seen the completed student work.  I have to say I’m pretty impressed, and it’s great students using digital fabrication to solve real-world challenges.


This is Tom, and he recently finished installing our magnificent sink.

Wood Turner Turned Plumber

Tom is a wood turner, and after spending some time in the space and seeing the capabilities of the laser, thought he might like to try to engrave some of his work. He brought in a pear bowl he had recently turned, and Rebekah (student and Innovation Center student employee) and I figured out how to use the auto-focus feature of the laser – we don’t use this much, and perhaps the only other time it’s come into play was when we tattooed a pumpkin back in October – to successfully engrave his signature on the bottom of said bowl.

Signature Bowl

The sink, by the way, has a built in eye wash, something that we we’re happy to have for safety reasons…

Sink and Eyewash in all their Glorw

…and for friendship! 🙂

Tramp and the Tramp